2020: Deadliest year on record for B.C. overdoses


SURREY (February 11, 2021) – Today’s updated illicit drug overdose report released by the B.C. Coroners Service confirmed that four years into this public health crisis, 2020 was the deadliest year for overdoses in British Columbia’s history.

“My condolences go out to the families of the 1,716 people who died of an overdose last year, as B.C. endured not one but two public health emergencies,” said Trevor Halford, BC Liberal Critic for Mental Health and Addictions. “Sadly, we haven’t seen nearly enough action from John Horgan whose NDP government continues to underdeliver on a comprehensive mental health and addictions strategy. Right now people with addictions in B.C. lack the supports they need – and more must be done to ensure the right services are available to them so more lives can be saved.”

2020 saw a 74 per cent increase in overdose deaths compared to 2019 and Northern Health had the highest rate of deaths in all health authorities. To address the ongoing crisis, Halford recently wrote to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions asking for immediate investment in youth mental health resources across the province as youth continue to struggle with their mental well-being in record numbers.

“Overcoming the overdose crisis will take more than a one-size fits-all-approach. We’ve advocated for recovery beds, greater access to naloxone, and a prescription drug monitoring program to help tackle the crisis,” said Halford. “COVID-19 has left many people without the supports they need, further exposing gaps in B.C.’s mental health system. However, after recording our deadliest year for overdoses, there is simply no time left to wait for action from the NDP. Stop-gaps and small funding announcements are no longer enough. We need John Horgan to step up and take the necessary steps to ensure a comprehensive mental health and addictions system.”